As PPTG is about to welcome five new members, Adam recalls his own resistance to joining the group and reflects on how much he would have missed had he turned down the invitation. He recalls his own growth and excitement about his two years with PPTG and eagerly awaits similar discoveries by the new members.
In the summer of 2014 I almost made a terrible mistake. For some time, my coworkers, Meat and Mike, had been soft-selling me on joining PPTG, and I kept saying no. I wasn’t as insecure as I once was, but I didn’t think I’d be able to do theatre. Mainly, though, I had a routine and did not want to commit to spending every Friday night with an unknown band of theatre nerds.
To their credit, Meat and Mike didn’t push too hard. When the three of us passed David in the yard one day, they introduced me. It was obvious from what followed that they had told him about me. David said, “Dude, you totally have to join.” As always, I said I’d think about it.
By that time, I actually had begun to think about it. Thing is, because of the personal aspect of PPTG, members don’t talk about what goes on in the group; I wasn’t able to know if any good would come out of my joining. All I had to go on was the work of a few true believers. On a slow afternoon at work, Mike shared with me a printed version of audience comments from the group’s last performance. They were universally positive, incandescent with a sense of having witnessed magical beauty. Something good was going on in PPTG, and I told Mike I’d welcome the opportunity to try out.
Once I decided that I wanted to join, I quickly went from reticence to needing to be part of the group. I stopped saying no, and began saying yes. Yes to Mike, yes to Meat, yes to David, the Wild Child. Yes to PPTG.
When Mike gave me the application, all eight pages of it, I was awed by the depth of the group’s questions for me, which were designed to find out my level of commitment, ability to take criticism, willingness to share, and more. I took it more seriously than I did my college applications some twenty years earlier. I made a real effort to make my writing legible. And then I waited.
I remember being on pins and needles, feeling joyous when I got on the phone and told my wife that the group was allowing me to participate in their six-week workshop. Not all of my “generation” of newbies stuck around after making it through the workshop. In the intervening years, I’ve made true friends, had amazing times, and laughed more than ever.
PPTG had changed my life. The improv practice has been especially useful, as I tend to be regimented and lacking spontaneity in most other areas of my life.
This past Friday night, I was ruminating on all these things as we went over applications for the next generation of PPTG members. It’s been two years since the ranks were replenished. The person I had identified to join–my friend, Jose–was transferred to Cayuga Correctional Facility a month ago. A couple of the other guys we really wanted were enrolled in an English elective that meets on Friday nights. The dude I selected totally phoned in his application. Perhaps he would’ve been good, but we’ll never know. After reading aloud his text-speak answers to several questions (“IDK,” are you kidding!). I withdrew his name from consideration. We have five solid applicants, one of whom–Mark–took a bit of soft-selling, as was the case with me. Meat thanked Ray and Leroy for the efforts with Mark, saying that if they hadn’t done so, “ We wouldn’t have an Adam.”
Hell of a guy to say something like that. I was so moved in that moment that I wasn’t able to say that if he and Mike and David hadn’t persisted with me two year earlier, I wouldn’t have all of you. So I just hugged him. To think, I almost said no to all of this. For two years I’ve been saying yes to PPTG, and that’s made all the difference.